Stuck inside on a rainy morning I turned to the internet for ideas for ways to entertain my son. There were plenty of options to choose from, including tons of “pins” on Pinterest. But honestly, have you seen some of these activities? Make playdough?
Build a car out of cardboard?
Decorate an ice cream cone?
Honestly, who are these toddlers? Who are these moms??
Sorry Pinterest Mom, that won’t work with my son. Sitting still is not his forte. Neither are fine motor skills or projects that involve a finished product. He’s a boy’s boy and if he’s going to be entertained on a rainy day, he needs a different kind of list.
Do you have a toddler like mine? Here are five things that have worked for us:
1. Knock Things Over
Preferably lots of different things. Remember, you’re not Pinterest Mom. Don’t buy anything or make anything, just use what you have in the house. Most of our towers are made out of old diaper boxes or plastic cups. In a pinch, you can use books, shoes, empty water bottles – anything that will stack or can be piled up in some way. Bonus points for yelling, “Boom!” and “Crash!” at the top of your lungs as they fall. Extra bonus points for devising creative ways to knock down the tower. A few of our favorites include zooming trucks into it, flinging stuffed animals at it, falling on top of it, and knocking it down accidentally while we were trying to build it. Worried that your little one will develop a love for destruction and mayhem? Don’t. He was born with one. There’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t fight it.
Next: Some indoor sledding.
2. Go Sledding
My son’s favorite thing to do these days is fly. Preferably while wearing a cape and proclaiming that he’s Superman. But boy are my arms tired. Indoor sledding is almost as fun as flying and it’s much less work for you. All you need is a cookie sheet (cookie sheets too Pinterest for you? Anything flat and sturdy will do) and something for a rope (we use a muslin receiving blanket. What the heck are these actually for? Why did everyone tell me to buy so many? Thank goodness we’re finally getting some use out of them). Tie the rope onto the cookie sheet (ours has a little hole on the edge. What is this for? I’m sure Pinterest Mom would know) or just hand one end to your toddler. Sit him down on the cookie sheet and pull! Obviously this works best on carpet. Bonus points for devising a crazy backstory (“Oh no! We’re being chased by the evil snow monster! If you value your life, sled little guy, sled!”) or scattering objects around the room for him to pick up as he sleds by. Extra bonus points for teaching him how to put his stuffed animals on the sled and pull it himself while you sit on the couch with a cup of tea. Worried he might fall off? He might. But you’re the one doing the pulling, so go as fast or as slow as you want.
Next: Your little guy can be a superhero.
3. Save the Day
Have I mentioned we’re into Superman? But this activity isn’t just for the Man of Steel. Whatever your child’s superhero of choice (and I’m including firemen, policemen, prince charming and all other good guys here) I’ll bet he’s just itching for a chance to be a hero. Use his toys to create a scenario in which he gets to save the day and cheer him on as he does it. For example, “Oh no, Superman! The tiger is going to eat the panda bear! Quick, Superman, save him!” My son runs over making flying noises and yanks the stuffed panda from the jaws of the plastic tiger. “Oh thank you, Superman!” I say in my best panda voice. Bonus points for creating elaborate situations: “Oh no, the farm is on fire! All the animals are inside! Oh good job, you saved them! But look, a dinosaur is trying to smash down the roof! And wait, here comes an alien to zap the farm back to his home planet! Hurry, Superman, hurry!” Extra bonus points for encouraging him to create his own scenarios so you can sit on the couch with a book. Worried the concept of “good guys” and “bad guys” is too simplistic and un-PC? Don’t be. There are good guys and bad guys and you’d much rather your child played at being Superman than Lex Luthor.
Next: Who needs a pool?
4. Play With Water
Don’t go all Pinterest on me, this isn’t about exploring which objects float and which ones sink or practicing our pouring skills. This is about how crazily we can splash and which plastic animal shoots water the farthest. Put down a towel in the kitchen, fill up a basin with water, strip your toddler down to his diaper and set him loose. I usually throw in some random kitchen utensils. Wooden spoons are good for smacking the water and Tupperware containers are good for scooping up water and dumping it out from great heights. Bonus points for teaching your toddler to blow bubbles in the water with a straw. Extra bonus points for letting him stomp in the water with his bare feet. Worried you’ll get water all over your kitchen? You will. But it’s only water. It’ll dry. (For safety’s sake, make sure you stay with your child and don’t forget to dump the water out when you’re done.)
Next: Grab a few “things.”
5. Put Things Inside of Other Things
I have no idea why this is entertaining (probably something to do with object permanence. Pinterest Mom would know) but it is. Grab an empty paper towel roll, or a diaper box or a cup with a lid, anything at all really, and let your toddler put things in and take them out. My son likes to slide books through the little slot on the bottom of a Pampers box. Then he can lift the box up and find the book there. He also likes to put his magnetic letters through the top of a paper towel roll and watch them come out the bottom. Bonus points for getting him to do this in some sort of helpful way, like putting all the recyclables into a large paper bag or helping you put all the groceries into the fridge. Extra bonus points for starting him off on this activity and then standing by to let him do it on his own. Worried he won’t like this because it doesn’t sound like any fun at all? Don’t be. He’ll love it. I just couldn’t tell you why.
And, if you’ve tried all these things and your little guy’s still antsy, just go out and play in the rain. It’s only water after all. Bonus points for jumping in just as many puddles as he does and shrieking just as loud. Sometimes you’ve got to just live in the moment. Any toddler could tell you that.